Texans' First Pre-Season Game: Some Things Never Change
Still baffled by the red zone
Preseason football games, I think we can all agree, are essentially worthless games for the fans. The final score means nothing. And a winning record in preseason doesn't translate to a winning record in the regular season. The games are important to the coaches and the players, especially those players trying to earn a roster spot. But in the end, the Texans losing 19-16 to the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday means nothing.
Still, there are a few things the fans can take away from Saturday's game. Some good, many bad, but hey, it's preseason, so I'm sure they'll get it all worked out before that Indianapolis game to open the season.
For instance, we learned that if the game doesn't matter, Mario Williams will turn in a great performance. So nothing's changed with him. Now come the Indianapolis game to open the season, or the Dallas game, or the Washington game, or about half of the other games on the schedule, it will just be a repeat of last season when one guy blocks him out of the screen and which will inspire all of the Williams is playing amazing football for a guy who is suffering from a debilitating injury.
And the Houston Chronicle told us several weeks ago that the Texans were looking for a big boost inside the twenty. But it's pretty obvious from watching Saturday that the Texans have yet to figure that whole red zone thing out.
The offense, as usual, was a well-oiled machine, generating yard after yard, first down after first down, just like in seasons past, until they reached the red zone. Then the great minds that are the Texans offense took over, leaving the team lucky to escape with field goals -- really lucky seeing as how Kris Brown was still around and kicking. (The team's lone touchdown came on a 44-yard Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson touchdown pass).
Steve Slaton still has trouble holding onto the football, and the guys on the TV broadcast are still trying to sell us on the greatness of Chris Henry. The TV guys also spent much of the game selling us on the greatness of John David Booty, but after Booty made Dan Orlovksy look like an All-Pro, I think it can be conclusively established that Spencer Tillman and Joel Meyers are either idiots when it comes to football, or are being paid by Gary Kubiak.
The first-team defense looked good in shutting down the Cardinals first-team offense. Then again, the game doesn't count, so Mario Williams was putting on quite the show. And everybody's favorite PED-test flunker, Brian Cushing, was out on the field for this game, so of course the first-string defense looked good.
The scrubs playing the fourth quarter did their best impersonation of the first-string defense playing the Titans or the Colts as they gave up 19 fourth-quarter points for the loss.
And the really bad news came in the
second third quarter when the team's second-round draft pick, running back Ben Tate appeared to break his ankle, which means he might be out for the season.
It's not that we know how good Tate is, or will be, yet. But his loss means another season of Kubiak going with the running-back pass or throwing a fade in the end zone because he doesn't trust Slaton to hold on to the football and because the offensive line isn't good enough -- oh, that's right, the Texans were doing that in the red zone on Saturday even before Tate got hurt.
There was some good news. Gary Kubiak actually won a replay challenge. Arian Foster looked really good running the football, but any back who doesn't fumble the ball for the Texans looks good. Andre Johnson is still the premier receiver in football, and even with that new contract he just got, he's still way underpaid.
And wasn't it comforting knowing that there was a legit, professional kicker on the sidelines when the Texans, as usual, went into one of their failed two-minute drives at the end of the game.
Of course, since Kubiak's the coach, the prime fear of any Texans fan is that, come the regular season, Kris Brown is going to trot out there and continue missing field goals. But at least he's the only remaining original Texan.
The Texans head off to New Orleans on Saturday for fake game number two, and this gives Kubiak and the brain trust another week to figure out what to do with the football when the offense is in the red zone. Hopefully someone will continue working with Steve Slaton on that whole "holding onto the football thing," and here's hoping the Ben Tate injury isn't as bad as it appears.